There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Conscience is a tricky thing, and the Christian conscience can be easily pricked. We know we have received so much from God, but with our thoughts and actions how often do we seem to let him down? How often do the words of Matthew 26:41 chime with us: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”?
In the seventh chapter of Romans we read of Paul’s struggle with the sin that clung so close. He writes: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). However, a few verses later he can write: “there is therefore now no condemnations for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
These two statements seem to contradict themselves. There is Paul continuing to sin, and yet asserting that he faces no condemnation. It’s almost as if he is saying God isn’t really concerned about sins, that he brushes them aside as mere peccadilloes. But he isn’t.
The point is that sin mattered so much, that Jesus came in order to deal with it. Our sins were cast upon his shoulders at the crucifixion and received their just rewards. And then we are clothed in his righteousness, what is known in the theological trade as “double-imputation”. A wonderful exchange!
The great comfort is that once we place our faith in Christ and him alone our position is secure. We are reliant upon his work, and his work alone. Although we try our best we will still stumble but, as Paul goes on to say,
“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).
That is the great joy of the Christian faith.